Baking yourself some healthy punchy protein-packed sweet treats can be an excellent way to satisfy any cake cravings while still giving your body the nutrition it needs to build muscle, lose fat, and control weight loss.
It's also a great way to replace some of the carbohydrates produced by regular flour and make yourself some tasty workout snacks.
In this post, we're going to looking at some healthy baking with protein powder instead of flour. Read on to find out how to make protein based muffins, cookies, brownies, cake, and more.
How Does Protein Powder Affect Baking?
The first thing to bear in mind when using protein powders in baking is that you should never use too much.
Protein powder, when baked, is more of a supplement to flour than a complete replacement. If your batter is over 1/2 protein powder, it's going to turn your baked goods rubbery and incredibly dry.
A good rule of thumb, if you're looking to modify existing recipes, is to use 1/3 of a cup of protein powders for every 1 cup of flour.
You can offset this effect even more by using more of the ingredients that add moisture, such as nuts or banana but be careful which food you choose as some can be high in fat which is not ideal for your intended body goals.
Let's go it into further detail on how specific protein powders affect a recipe below.
My Test Subject: Banana Bread
The best way to try out something new in the kitchen is to experiment with healthy recipes that you can already do really well.
This allows you to account for any slight variance and gauge the effect the modifications are having.
I make vegan banana bread because it's easy, low in fats, incredibly healthy, and most of all delicious. Also, I like to share and have a lot of friends who don't dig on dairy.
Obviously, the whey variant below is not vegan, but the basic recipe is as follows.
- 3 or 4 medium-sized overripe bananas (the more brown spots, the better)
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup of your selected protein powders
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup of organic brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of canola oil (or whichever oil you like best)
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Optional: tasty, crunchy bits like cacao nibs, walnuts, desiccated coconut, or chocolate chips.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly oil a bread pan and put in some parchment so that the edges just poke out over the top of each side.
- Peel and mash the banana in a bowl.
- Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla, and mix well.
- Add the flour, then the baking soda, cinnamon, and salt on top.
- Stir but do not overmix the batter. Consistency should be thick.
- (Optional) fold in any crunchy cravings like your cacao nibs or walnuts.
- Spoon your batter into your bread pan and then smooth out the top with the back of the spoon.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes back out clean.
- Remove from oven and leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before taking it out of its pan.
- Slice, serve, enjoy.
Test #1: Whey Protein Powder
So, the whey protein powder was a weird one. Overall, it came out very well, but its consistency varied from when it was still warm to when it had cooled.
It had a fantastic texture to it when fresh out of the oven, it was really cakey with a lovely taste and aroma. It became very rubbery though when given the time to cool down.
It also had the least color out of the four and didn't rise quite as well as they did.
- Appearance: Light color and a little flat in the middle
- Texture: Moist only while warm, dried out after cooling
- Taste: Consistent, barely noticeable impact on the original recipes
- Smell: Good aroma
I've read online that whey protein powder is excellent for replacing flour, and it's undoubtedly the most popular.
This might have been a bad recipe to try it out with, or perhaps there was some error on my part, but for this test, at least, it was a little lacking.
Test #2: Pea Protein Powder
Next up was the pea protein powder, which I have to admit, I had some doubts about going in.
This is mostly due to the idea of a pea and banana combo being a little off-putting. The banana bread itself though, was fantastic, it had the evenest consistency of all four with the fewest holes and a lovely dense and moist texture.
It looked a little darker than the other loaves of bread. It also had an earthy note to its flavor that was impossible not to notice.
- Appearance: Dark in color with beautiful, even consistency
- Texture: Dense but moist, lovely both cooled and still warm
- Taste: Has an earthy flavor that is not unpleasant but definitely noticeable
- Smell: Good aroma but again a hint of the organic
Overall, I was both surprised and delighted by the pea protein banana bread. While the combo may sound a little odd, the texture was definitely the best of the four.
The taste was affected but not necessarily in the wrong way. I think pea protein would make for some fantastic brownies and will be trying it again in the future.
Test #3: Soy Protein Powder
The soy protein was the one I expected to come out the best; it's the protein that I've heard a lot of people bake with time after time.
However, I must have missed one important piece of information before going into my little experiment. The soy banana bread was incredibly sweet, far sweeter than the other three breads.
I probably could have dropped the vanilla or some of the sugar from the ingredients and been fine.
- Appearance: Beautiful almost perfect golden brown
- Texture: Perfectly moist and lovely both cool and warm
- Taste: A lot sweeter than the other pieces of bread, not unbearably so, but definitely noticeable
- Smell: Good aroma but again you smell the sweetness on it
I will use soy again, choosing to cut some of the sugar from the ingredients list when I do. Overall, it was a great replacement, and in terms of look and feel mirrors my old recipes perfectly.
The flavor is impacted due to how very sweet it is though, so in this test, it was a little disappointing.
For a full review of the best soy protein powders check this page.
Test #4: Hemp Protein Powder
Now, I must admit, I tweaked the ingredients for this one using the optional chia seeds listed above.
You can use nuts, chocolate chips, or anything else you fancy for a little more bite, but I foresaw the hemp having the most significant impact on the flavor and wanted to offset that.
Hemp protein has become a favorite of mine due to the fact it has a full branched-chain amino acid profile, so I wanted it to have a great flavor.
- Appearance: Slightly darker texture but still golden brown
- Texture: Wonderfully dense and moist
- Taste: The furthest removed from the original recipes, with definite earthy tones but absolutely delicious with the chia seeds
- Aroma: Good aroma, especially when warm
The hemp protein definitely made an impact on the tongue, and like the pea protein powder before, it gave the bread a slightly earthy and organic flavor.
With the added chia seeds, this bread was my personal favorite. Different from the original, but delicious. I’m going to try hemp, banana, and chia seed brownies or some hemp chocolate muffins next.
Which Protein Powder Is Best For Baking?
All four of the protein powders made excellent replacements with the ingredients I used.
Choosing which one was best, however, will depend on your definition, your nutrition needs, whether it’s a workout snack, or an at-home treat.
The banana bread that came out the most like the original recipe was the soy protein powder.
It was significantly sweeter but that means you can reduce the amount of sweetener you put in which will help lower the calorie count and fat content.
My personal delicious and nutritious champion was the hemp protein powder.
It comes loaded with all 9 BCAA's, an excellent nutritional profile and the flavor of it comes out tasting great too. It gives your body what it needs, and tastes great doing so.
Why don't you experiment with some of your favorite healthy recipes and protein powders and let us know how they come out?
Perhaps try out some of these: